Dawn has barely broken on this Sunday morning, and she walks around the perimeter of the property, finding flowers for the vase. Her young daughter says hello to the stray cat nestled in the side yard lava rocks and hands me a plumeria she picked from one of the few mature tree branches she can reach.

She named the cat Hina Kai sometime last year, because she’s gray and, like the Hawaiian coastline that serves as my backdrop right now, extraordinarily beautiful… for a cat, anyway. I’m more of a dog person. But you probably knew this.

We restored this house a few years ago, and are here as often as life allows. When we’re not, we occasionally rent the place out to cover expenses. But this isn’t a house… it’s a home, and after they’ve stayed here, folks tend to recognize we’re offering a piece of ourselves. 

So I was a little, well, taken aback at the text message demanding we get rid of the cat. 

She stays on the perimeter of the property, usually just off the lanai in the lava rocks, and you have to really look for her to even know she’s there. 

But word came down from the guests last month that the cat must go, that we must trap her and either kill her or dump her far, far away, because their son was apparently deathly allergic to cats, and his mother didn’t want dander anywhere outside.

There’s a lot to unpack here. Suffice to say, Hawaii is teeming with feral cats, and outside is, well, outside. Hopefully, the kid’s mother packed one of those spacesuits that a few people, who clearly shouldn’t be traveling, have been wearing in the airport the last couple of years to protect themselves from… well… life.

Turns out, the son was also allergic to cockroaches. He found one dead in a drawer, and his mother wanted a refund, in addition to getting rid of the cat.

I wrote what amounted to literary violence via text, then erased the more offensive bits to say something to the effect of You can take the money, honey, but you’re not taking the cat.

A whale spouts in the ocean window between the palms, and the young daughter tells me to close my eyes and smell. Which I do. Plumeria.

She hands me the single flower and asks if Hina Kai knows her name.

Yes, I think she does.

As the small gray cat lays curled between the lava rock and garden house, her eyes drooping into sleep.

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